Throughout the July / August vacation period, the Rude Baguette will be running a series of interviews with some of France’s top and rising startups, where their founders give us more insight into their business, their future plans and what sets them apart from the rest. In our first installment, we talk with Jonathan Banner, Founder & CEO of Flash-Card (view Jonathan’s virtual card here), who with his team are looking to bring the business card into the virtual world. While many others have attempted to do this, Banner expects that their holistic approach, which enables users to develop, manage and share their identity with business prospects, employers, etc. will convince users of the value virtual cards can bring.
Tell us about what you do, your business model, and how the idea to start Flash-Card came about?
The story Flash-Card started when I was playing piano in a luxury hotel in Paris. Someone came and asked me who was the author of the song that I had just played. I answered: me ! He asked for my business card because he was creating a movie about a pianist. I took a piece of paper, wrote my name, phone and my youtube page. I never heard from him… The problem ? A paper, even a Business Card, is no longer relevant to share your identity and your universe. Flash-Card is the solution to share your full identity using SMS, e-mail, QR Code in a second. The next step was Flash-Analytics© which came about when I was on the subway, thinking about a way to know how my profile, how virtual card could be more attractive for recruiters and others.
Following that, the incredible adventure began.
To bring Flash-Card to life, I using my skill as an artist (pianist and composer) to imagine what’s possible and my skill as an engineering to create. Then, working with my twin Mickael (view Mickael’s virtual card here) we apply it. We manage a team of 2 engineers (Sébastien Chambon & Mathieu Lelaouenan) as well as 1 designer to make our revolution a reality.
The concept of virtual business cards has been around for a while now. How big of a market is it and are you finding that increasing numbers of people are starting to move towards these types of cards (rather than paper/cardstock)? Why?
Yes, but it was only a concept. With Flash-Card you enter in a Universe, we don’t stop at the concept. Users can really improve their image, gather their complete identity in one place and exploit it. While we think our connected business card is useful today, it will be unavoidable tomorrow.
For us, there are 2 types of people: tech-savvy people and traditionalists. With two very different audiences, we’ve proposed two product offers: virtual card only (share by message, e-mail) for tech savvy users and paper business cards with QR Code (which directs to the virtual card on mobile) for more traditionalists. Using these two approaches, we can address the entire business card market.
I would think that your market is quite competitive. What sets Flash-Card apart from the rest? What would you say your advantage is?
It’s not too competitive because nobody (yet) has found the solution to make a real evolution of the business card. This is what we’ve done.
In addition, we’ve gone even further, obtaining with a provisional patent in US (deposed in June’14) and 5 others being filled.
With flash-card, we see the big advantage being that users can do a range of activities, including creating a virtual profile, updating it, having an online directory, doing self-branding etc… all for free.
I understand that you’re available in various languages. Which international markets are you in currently (ie where your users are based)? Which new markets look most interesting for you?
Currently the company is French and we will open a second office soon in California. We had a first introduction in US at UCI (University of California Irvine) where I received the Alumni Achievement Award (selected from 6000 international students) for the launching of Flash-Card there.
In France we’re already gotten 7 Universities on-board as customers.
Our plan is to focus on two principal big markets: the US Market, key for the tech-savvy segment, and the Asian Market, where there’s a great need to evolve the traditional business card. To support this, we have already one partnership with bestprints.biz (online printer in Japan) and another confidential contract in China.
What’s next for Flash-Card? What is your long-term vision?
We have several goals. Above all, we want to make this evolution (of the traditional business card) a revolution.
We’re also looking to raise money to expand our team and secure funds to support our marketing efforts.
We’d also like to (eventually) integrate into a California-based accelerator and increase our focus on more potential business and university customers to introduce the connected business card.
We are looking to be a standard…as people say « Google it » they will say « Flash It »
Everybody needs a business card, everybody should follow this evolution to have in 2014 something which lead them on a transition from the material to the virtual.
Flash-Card will also be recruiting at our upcoming Paris Startup Job Fair at the CentQuatre on September 13th. So if you’re looking to make your next career move, make sure to sign-up today!
Startups and other high-growth tech companies, if you’re looking to expand your team, make sure to fill-out this form and we’ll get back to you asap!